Actor Lalor Roddy to guest at the Capital Irish Film Festival

Lalor Roddy in  Don’t Leave Home

Lalor Roddy in Don’t Leave Home

Belfast native is star of many stages and screens large and small.

Irish Times theater critic Fintan O’Toole described Lalor Roddy a decade ago as ”surely the finest Irish actor of his generation” – that was before he broke into film in a big way. Now he might also be the busiest screen actor in Ireland. Followers of the Capital Irish Film Festival would have seen him in last year’s opening film “Zoo”, “Bad Day for the Cut,” “Maze” and “Made in Belfast.”

And unless you don’t subscribe to cable, you would know him as the Catspaw Assassin in the wildly successful HBO series “Game of Thrones.”

In the 13th annual Capital Irish Film Festival, you can catch up with Lalor Roddy in three films: “The Devil’s Doorway” (Friday), “Don’t Leave Home” (Saturday) and “Float Like a Butterfly” (Sunday). You will have the opportunity to ask him how he does it in audience talkbacks or in a quiet word at receptions during the festival.

See him with Solas Nua Chair Paddy Meskell on Thursday, February 28, on the popular morning talk show “Great Day Washington” with Markette Sheppard.

Lalor Roddy in  Game of Thrones

Lalor Roddy in Game of Thrones

Roddy, who trained and worked as a psychologist, took up acting relatively late, when he performed as Gandalf in a youth theatre production of The Hobbit at the age of 33. He has built a remarkable career on stage and screen – both big and small. He was a founder of Tinderbox, worked with the Lyric and Abbey theaters and several times with the Royal Shakespeare Company. He won the ESB/Irish Times Award for Best Supporting Actor for his part in In a Little World of Our Own.

Lalor Roddy in  The Devil’s Doorway

Lalor Roddy in The Devil’s Doorway


How Giving Up on My Movie Actually Made it a Reality

The writer-director of Don't Leave Home tells the frustrating, improbable story of how his fifth feature (finally) came to be.

By Michael Tully

Michael Tully

Michael Tully

My previous feature, Ping Pong Summer, world premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. I’m firmly convinced that if I had shown up in Park City ready to go with the script and cast for my follow-up project, Don’t Leave Home, we would have been in Ireland shooting the movie that fall. Alas, every piece — aside from the title and a desire to shoot in Ireland — was very much not in place, and so began a frustrating four-year journey. Considering I’d been dreaming of making Ping Pong Summer for 20 years before it finally happened, four years might seem like a quick little snap of the fingers. But when you’ve directed four features already and think your “career” should be getting at least somewhat easier along the way, four years feels like a soul-depleting eternity.

Let me start by taking a good bit of the blame here. My tendency has always been to put all of my energy into whichever individual project I’m most excited about. Meanwhile, anyone who has a successful “professional” filmmaking career will assure you that you better have something frying on all four burners — and baking in the oven — if you want to work consistently. On that count, allow me to plead: 100 percentguilty. (Note to aspiring filmmakers reading this, or slow-to-learn “veterans” such as myself: multiple burners is where it’s at!)

That said, I can’t take full responsibility for the film not coming together sooner. Initially, our plan was for a sturdy seven-figure budget and an A-list cast (sound familiar?), but as time went on, I and the rest of the producing team decided to take a different approach: let’s trust the material, cast the best actors for the part, and raise enough money needed to get the job done. That would make things easier!

Anna Margaret Hollyman in  Don’t Leave Home

Anna Margaret Hollyman in Don’t Leave Home

Or … not. It turns out that cobbling together even a few hundred thousand dollars for a not-really-horror “horror” movie isn’t the best shortcut to the bank. Having a third-act location that is a reflection of one character’s conscience and is labeled in the script as “The Dungeon Room” proves to be more confusing than convincing. And being fortunate enough to secure actors that are truly gifted performers but that don’t rank as highly in the invisible blue book doesn’t seal the fiscal deal. (Note to aspiring filmmakers reading this, or slow-to-learn “veterans” such as myself: stick to your guns and always cast the best actor for the part, no matter what that idiotic invisible blue book says!)

Back in 2014, we were lucky enough to receive development funds, which allowed me to write the script and also travel to Ireland to scout locations with my main producer George Rush and other producers and investors along the way. For the first few years, we were determined to shoot in Sligo, but that was outside the Dublin zone, which would have meant housing all the cast and crew and paying per diems and travel. Which is another way of saying: we didn’t have enough money to shoot in Sligo.

Until the spring of 2017, we didn’t have enough money to shoot anywhere. Anytime in those first few years when the film felt close to happening, one of our attached producers at the time — who was tasked with raising half of the budget — expressed a nonchalant arrogance that the money was already in the bank. But when deadline day arrived … zilch. It should be noted that this person was born into extreme privilege and didn’t understand how pushing the movie back several months actually was a big deal for someone like myself who didn’t have a trust fund or a full-time job (how could I commit to a full-time job when I was supposed to be in Ireland shooting a movie in the very near future?!) and who wasn’t a sociopath by nature and therefore felt sick to my stomach having to call several trusted collaborators who had turned down other work and tell them, yet again, that I was deeply sorry but the movie was not, in fact, happening.

Michael Tully on a film set

Michael Tully on a film set

There’s that infamous saying: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” In our case, it took more than thrice before I finally reached my snapping point. I told George that I would rather never direct another movie than have a poisonous presence on our team in anycapacity — it didn’t matter how much money someone was bringing to the table. As desperate as he was to raise the money and make our movie, George finally agreed. (Note to aspiring filmmakers reading this, or slow-to-learn “veterans” such as myself: trust your instincts when choosing producers, investors, crew, or cast; if your gut is catching a stiff whiff of poison, turn and run for fresher, healthier air!)

This was in the fall of 2016. I had just returned from Ireland, where I’d been interviewing potential crew members, and was preparing to return there in just a few short weeks in order to finally make this movie once and for all … only I wasn’t. We didn’t have the money we needed. The shoot wasn’t happening that fall. But, more than that, I felt something deeper: the movie wasn’t happening at all. I called George, and to my surprise, he conceded. Even his stubborn optimism had been buried in the bog. We both knew it. George called the Irish producing team at Subotica Films with whom we had partnered — and become genuinely good friends — over the course of the past few years. He told Tristan Orpen Lynch that all of our work was for naught. The money wasn’t there. The project was dead. On a whim, Tristan asked, “Well, how much could you raise?”

Aislinn Clarke is the first Irish woman to write and direct a feature horror film and it looks terrifying

Aislinn Clarke

Aislinn Clarke

Meet Aislinn Clarke, a filmmaker, scriptwriter, and lecturer at the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen's University Belfast.

Clarke's first feature film - which holds the dual distinction of being the first feature horror film written and directed by an Irish woman - will be released in the US by IFC on July 13, and it could not be more timely. 

The Devil's Doorway is based upon the very real horrors of Ireland's Magdalene Laundries, where, from 1765 to 1996, women who became pregnant outside of marriage were hidden away and subject to grueling labor and abuse by the Catholic Church. 

Per the official movie description: 

What unholy terrors lurk behind the walls of a secretive Irish convent? Northern Ireland, 1960: Father Thomas Riley (Lalor Roddy) and Father John Thornton (Ciaran Flynn) are dispatched by the Vatican to investigate reports of a miracle—a statue of the Virgin Mary weeping blood—at a remote Catholic asylum for “immoral” women. Armed with 16mm film cameras to record their findings, the priests instead discover a depraved horror show of sadistic nuns, satanism, and demonic possession. Supernatural forces are at work here—but they are not the doing of God. Inspired by the infamous true histories of Magdalene Laundries—in which “fallen women” were held captive by the Irish Catholic Church—this found footage occult shocker is a chilling encounter with unspeakable evil.

Clarke was recently in New York to speak at the New York, New Belfast conference on the future of Belfast and its creative industries. IrishCentral was lucky to have a few minutes to hear more about her journey as a filmmaker and what's next.

“Lost & Found”: A Seven-Year Journey

Lost & Found will be screened at the Capital Irish Film Festival, Friday, March 1 at 5 p.m.

Lost & Found will be screened at the Capital Irish Film Festival, Friday, March 1 at 5 p.m.

By Liam O Mochain, director/writer

“Lost & Found” is a feature film with seven interconnecting stories set in and around the lost and found office of an Irish train station. All segments are inspired by true stories, share a theme of something lost or found and have characters that come in and out of each other’s lives. It was filmed in seven segments of three to four days per annum over a five-year period from 2011 to 2016 in Ireland. I spent the first six months each year researching the stories and characters, three months working on the script and three months was spent on the production itself from prep, to filming to post work. A good part of the year was also spent looking for and raising money to cover the next film segment.

Each year, we brought in most of the key production team and core crew three to four weeks before the filming began, depending on how many segments were to be filmed. Each year’s segments were only done after the previous one or ones were paid for and finished. Doing it over this long period gave me a lot of time to think about all the different stories, characters and ways to interweave them together in the overall project. “Lost & Found” completed principal photography in Summer 2016 and post- production in April 2017.

The ensemble cast includes: Norma Sheahan (“Moone Boy”, “Handsome Devil”), Liam Carney (“Red Rock”, “Outlander”), Aoibhin Garrihy (“The Fall”), Anthony Morris (“Games of Thrones”), Liam O Mochain (“Covet”, “WC”), Seamus Hughes (“Jimmy’s Hall”), Olga Wehrly (“Without Name”), Brendan Conroy (“Vikings”), Barbara Adair (“Ripper Street”, “Grabbers”), Tom O Suilleabhan (“Maze”, “Fifty Dead Men Walking”), Diarmuid Noyes (“Borgia”, “Killing Bono”), Lynette Callaghan (“Cold Feet”), Daniel Costelloe (“Albert Nobbs”, “Magdalene Sisters”) and Donncha Crowley (“Fr. Ted”). The creative team behind “Lost & Found” are writer/director Liam O Mochain (“WC”, “The Book That Wrote Itself”), producer Bernie Grummell (“WC”, “The Book That Wrote Itself”), DoP Fionn Comerford (“Penny Dreadful”, “Vikings”, “Roy”), production designer David Wilson (“Omagh”, “Some Mother’s Son”), sound Niall O’Sullivan (“Frank”), Philippe Faujas (“Eden”, “Pure Mule”), make up and hair Caoimhe Arrigan (“Death of a President”, “Stella Street”), editor Ciara Brophy (Oscar-nominated “The Crush”, “Savage Eye”), 1st AD/Co Producer Eamonn Norris (“Ros na Run”) and composer Richie Buckley (“WC”, “The General”).


“Lost & Found” is O Mochain’s third feature film. He has also made numerous short films, documentaries and TV shows. His 2007 feature film “WC” won Best Foreign Film at Las Vegas International Film Festival and Best Film at the Waterford Film Festival. “WC” also screened at Montreal World Film Festival, Galway, Dublin, Arizona and the Cairo International Film Festival. His debut feature film “The Book That Wrote Itself”garnered a lot of international interest, had its world premiere at the 1999 Galway Film Fleadh, international premiere at the 1999 Vancouver International Film Festival and went on to acclaim at many film festivals worldwide. Fortune, his first short film, won best short film at the1998 Worldfest Houston International Film Festival. His short film “Covet” was long-listed for an academy award in 2013.

Lost & Found will be screened at the Capital Irish Film Festival, Friday, March 1 at 5 p.m.

Docudrama "I, Dolours" grew from a series of interviews

Dolours Poster.jpg

‘I, Dolours’ – The Backstory

By Ed Moloney

Ed Moloney will be interviewed by Niall Stanage, associate editor and White House columnist for The Hill, after the 5:45 p.m. showing of the film on Saturday, March 2, at the Capital Irish Film Festival.

The origins of this film on the life of the late Dolours Price – directed by Maurice Sweeney and produced by New Decade TV – lie in an interview that she gave to the Belfast daily, The Irish News in February 2010, in which she spoke, for the first time publicly, about her part in the saga of the IRA ‘disappeared’.

That interview set in motion a cascade of crises that culminated in an agreement between herself and myself in which she made a promise not to reveal any more about the ‘disappeared’. In return she would record her story on tape and video and it would not see daylight until she died. That way the truth could eventually be told without causing harm to herself.

The journey to that agreement was a long and complicated one, so for the purpose of brevity I will tell the story in bullet points:

  • For around three or four years I was the director of the Boston College Oral History Archive which was established in 2001 to collect and record interviews with participants in the Northern Ireland Troubles, primarily Republican and Loyalist activists;

  • I had been a journalist in Belfast until 2001, most recently for the Dublin-based Sunday Tribune. That year I moved to New York. In 2003, Penguin published my study of the IRA’s journey to the peace process, a book called ‘A Secret History of the IRA’;

  • Dolours Price was one of several former IRA members who I spoke to for the book. Amongst other things, she confirmed the existence and role of ‘the Unknowns’ and told me about the ‘disappeared’;

  • When the Boston archive was set up, Dolours Price agreed to give a series of interviews about her life and times in the Provisional IRA. Both myself and the researcher knew that she had been involved with ‘the Unknowns’ in taking people away to be ‘disappeared’;

  • Before the interviews began Dolours was given the opportunity to exclude subjects she did not wish to speak about at all or fully in her interviews, matters that she did not want her family to know about. She chose ‘the disappeared’ as one of those subjects.

  • In 2009, I was asked to write a book based upon interviews given to the archive by Brendan Hughes, a former Belfast commander of the IRA, a hunger striker and a onetime close friend of Gerry Adams. RTE and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland also accepted a proposal to make a documentary based on the book;

  • In late 2009 we approached Dolours Price in Belfast for an interview and she agreed. She and Brendan Hughes had been close comrades. Shortly afterwards I was contacted by a family member who told me that Dolours had been ill with PTSD. I was asked not to interview her and immediately agreed. There the matter would have ended but for events;

  • I have always believed that one event in particular pushed Dolours Price over the edge. In late 2009, the Belfast daily,The Irish News reported that the IRA had lied when it had admitted ’disappearing’ people during the Troubles. A list of victims prepared by the organisation, the paper reported, was incomplete. Missing was Joe Lynskey, the IRA’s chief of intelligence in Belfast and the first ‘disappeared’ victim to be driven across the Irish Border by Dolours Price;

  • Joe Lynskey was a friend of Dolours Price. He believed utterly in the IRA, believed he had been rightly sentenced to death and went willingly with Dolours across the Border. He could have escaped but didn’t. I think the reminder of all that disturbed her intensely and led to the next fateful step;

  • In February 2009, Dolours Price gave an interview about the ‘disappeared’ to The Irish News reporter who had broken the Lynskey story, but her family intervened with the editor to reduce the harm. I visited her in hospital that day only to learn that she had scheduled another interview, this time with The Guardian. Her family didn’t seem to know about this. I knew the journalist; he was good at his job. Nothing, it seemed, was going to stop her from telling her story to the world;

  • It was clear that a major effort would have to be made to stop her from a course that would be disastrous for her and her family;

  • So, I made the proposal that has led to this film. She could sit down and tell her story on tape and video; it would then be stored away until her death. Only then would the world hear what she had to say about that period – and I told her that if she predeceased me, and I was able, I would ensure that her story was told. She agreed;

  • Although subsequently she gave interviews to CBS and The Sunday Telegraph, Dolours Price never revealed publicly the full, untold story of the ‘disappeared’ which is disclosed in this documentary. She kept her word. And I have now kept mine;

The result is this film, ‘I, Dolours’.


Ed Moloney was Northern Editor of the Irish Times during the IRA hunger strikes of 1981 and

was Northern Editor of the Sunday Tribune during the peace process years which saw the IRA

end its campaign and decommission its weaponry.

In 1999 he was voted Irish journalist of the year for his coverage of Northern Ireland at the time

of the Good Friday Agreement. He is the author of three major books on the Troubles: ‘Paisley -

From Demagogue to Democrat?’, an unauthorised biography of Ian Paisley; ‘A Secret History of

the IRA’, an account of the IRA’s journey to the Good Friday Agreement and ‘Voices From the

Grave’ - the story of two combatants, Brendan Hughes of the IRA and David Ervine of the UVF.

He is also co-producer of a documentary based on ‘Voices From the Grave’ that won the Irish

Film and Television Academy prize for best documentary of 2009; and of the film ‘I, Dolours’,

the life of IRA veteran Dolours Price. He is married with one son and lives in the Bronx, New

York where he moved to from Belfast in 2001.

Award-winning film “The Drummer and the Keeper” is Nick Kelly’s first feature.

10.5.18 Condemned to Remember 038.jpg

Writer/ director Nick Kelly will join Solas Nua and the American Film Festival at the opening of the 13th annual Capital Irish Film Festival.

Produced by Calico Pictures and inspired by Nick’s experiences as both a rock musician and the parent of a child with Asperger’s Syndrome, his first feature The Drummer And The Keeper premiered at the Galway Film Fleadh in July 2017, where it won Best Irish First Feature.

After a successful Irish theatrical release it was selected for the BFI London Film Festival, and won Best Feature at the Irish Film Festival London in November 2017.

The Drummer And The Keeper was nominated in 5 categories at the 2018 IFTA Awards, including Best Screenplay for Nick’s script, with Jacob McCarthy winning the prestigious Rising Star for his portrayal of Christopher. Nick was one of three screenwriters nominated in the Best Feature Script section of the Irish Writer Guild’s annual ZeBBie awards 2018.

To date The Drummer And The Keeper has also won the Roxanne T. Mueller Audience Choice Award for Best Film at the Cleveland International Film Festival, Best Foreign Film at the Newport Beach Film Festival, the Silver Award in the Score Bernhard Wicki Preis for Best Film at the Emden-Norderney International Filmfest, Best Feature at the Umbria Film Festival, the Special Jury Prize at Filmfest Bremen, Audience Award for Best Feature at the Eureociné Film Festival Nantes, and both the Audience Award and Young Jury Award at the Semaine Du Cineam Britannique in Bruz. Nick was awarded Best Director at the Breaking Down Barriers International Film Festival Moscow.

Nick Kelly began writing and directing award-winning short films in 2003, culminating in his third short Shoe being shortlisted for an Oscar nomination in 2011.

Having qualified as a solicitor and given up his legal career the same day, Nick’s working life has been devoted to creative endeavours. In addition to his work in film, he is a Clio-winning advertising creative, a Choice Music Prize-nominated musical artist and an Ian St. James Award-winning short fiction writer.

The festivals bringing the best of Irish films to a US audience


No need to rely solely on Netflix, these U.S.-based Irish film festivals are working to bring all the hottest new big-screen gems to an American audience.

IrishCentral readers are certainly film lovers and jump at the chance to stream the latest Irish hit but for many of you, there is access to great Irish movies on your own front door. Here, Pat Reilly of the Capital Irish Film Festival in D.C. explains how audiences even within Irish America differ from each other and how collaboration is key to bringing the best of Irish film stateside.

The Capital Irish and Chicago Irish Film Festivals met over a crisis.

I still had my training wheels on four years ago as director of the Capital Irish Film Festival (CIFF). Showtime was the first weekend of March, and right after a successful opening night, I heard from “the other CIFF,” the Chicago Irish Film Festival. The same weekend, same acronym, and not surprisingly, many of the same films. The one we had just opened with the night before in Silver Spring, MD, had not made it from Ireland to Chicago for their festival. I had the only copy this side of the Atlantic.

The American Film Institute Marquee used by the Capital Irish Film Festival.

The American Film Institute Marquee used by the Capital Irish Film Festival.

Chicago’s Jude Blackburn had almost two decades of experience running a film festival, but that couldn’t guarantee the Irish mail service. I overnighted my copy of the film, impressed that Chicago had an account with FedEx!

While we checked in frequently to track its progress, we promised to share a whine over a glass of wine when it was over. It turned out that would only happen in Galway several years hence. Along the way, though, we traded information, shared guests and compared audience tastes.

The Washington-area audience enjoys films exploring Irish history and culture and will turn out in large numbers for “political films,” or ones about church scandals. Chicago “has moved towards indie or edgier films like ‘The Survivalist’, ‘Traders’ and ‘Writing Home,’” says Blackburn.

Everybody loves films about music and musicians—like the comedic “Sing Street” or the 2018 documentary “Lomax in Éirinn.”

Chicago is renowned for its shorts programs, having screened over 700 shorts in 20 years. Capital Irish is proud to show this year’s Oscar-nominated short “Late Afternoon.”

And despite the Irish reputation for having fun, great comedies are hard to find and we hunt for them like snipes at a full moon and feel blessed when we get a good one for the festival. This year, the Capital-area CIFF opens with a dramedy “The Drummer and the Keeper” and a talkback with director Nick Kelly. We’ll celebrate with a reception hosted by The Embassy of Ireland.

The Capital’s CIFF has long enjoyed the support of Culture Ireland (CI), the Irish government ministry whose mission it is to support the spread of Irish culture worldwide. CI funds the travel of filmmakers to festivals, one of the favorite festival features for artists and audiences.

This year, we’re excited to have one of the busiest Irish actors around, Lalor Roddy, whose range has him acting on stage with the Lyric, the Abbey and the Royal Shakespeare and also playing the Catspaw Assassin in HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” He stars in three of our festival films, “The Devil’s Doorway” (priest), “Don’t Leave Home” (priest again) and “Float Like a Butterfly” (traveler grandfather).

With a little bit of schedule jiggering, I can bring artists from Ireland to D.C. early in the weekend and then route them through Chicago by Sunday, and vice versa. Capital Irish has the help of Caddie Tours, a local travel company that makes artists’ flight arrangements pro bono. That acts like aspirin for organizers.

In recent years, thanks to the smashing box office success of Irish films like “The Favourite,” “Room,” “Brooklyn” and the phenomenal “Game of Thrones,” Irish films, filmmakers and actors are in high demand. Films go more quickly to international distributors or video on demand so that film festivals largely run by volunteers on sparse budgets rely heavily on the Irish Film Institute, the Arts Council and Screen Ireland to help us get the attention of filmmakers who are holding out for Sundance or, better yet, an Oscar nod.

My CIFF is part of a group in the Washington, D.C., area, Solas Nua (new light in Irish), a non-profit dedicated to multi-disciplinary contemporary Irish arts. As a member of the board of directors, I coordinate with a theater arts director, a visual arts director, a book club, a poetry series and a range of musical presentations from all over Ireland.

Blackburn and her board of directors are all about film and receive hundreds of films each and have a panel of reviewers to create a diverse program of films.

While Chicago has used the beautiful Logan and Gallery Theatres for years and now Theatre on the Lake, an incredible space for their opening night gala and screening, Capital Irish has partnered with the American Film Institute, which specializes in international film festivals and operates the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Arts Center in suburban Silver Spring, MD. The partnership has brought us theaters, a spacious lobby for parties and a staff of film aficionados to help with everything. AFI’s massive art deco marquee can put Irish filmmakers’ names in lights for the run of their shows, which sends some first-time filmmakers into orbit.

If you are within reach of our festivals, why not come out and see some amazing films and meet the filmmakers before they get that Oscar nod. To see the full program and buy tickets go to Capital Irish Film Festival or Chicago Irish Film Festival

Weekend Movie Star

CIFF alumni ‘Lift’ gets a boost from VOD

marquee pic.jpg

By Kealan Ryan (writer/actor)

The best Irish film you may have enjoyed at the Capital Irish Film Festival is now on all good Video On Demand (VOD) platforms. If I say so myself, “Lift” is the greatest movie ever written. Perhaps I’m a little biased, considering that I wrote it. In fact, I’m definitely biased, but still, at the very least you’ll think it is damn good.

I travelled with “Lift” to the 2017 Capital Irish Film Festival, where I got to feel like a movie star for a weekend. My V.I.P. experience began on my flight from Ireland, where I had a middle row on the plane and as luck would have it nobody to share it with. Stretched out across four seats, I had more leg room than first class; things were off to a damn good start and they were only about to get better.

Picked up from the airport and brought to the spectacular venue of the AFI Silver Theatre, I met the delightful Pat Reilly and Mike Kerlin, who greeted me with a fine glass of red wine. The place was full of nothing but lovely people all there to promote and celebrate Irish film and all eager to talk about my film, which would be playing the next night. When that night came, I spent about twenty minutes outside trying to get the perfect selfie in front of my name in lights as it spun around the impressive canopy at the entrance of the AFI complex. With the best ever selfie secured and my ego at an all-time high, I bounced into the place as if my shoes were made out of springs.

It was our American premiere, so I was slightly anxious about how it would be received. I needn’t have been: Laughing, clapping, hooting, crying. There’s nothing quite like an American audience – they really let you know how they feel. And it made me feel, well, like I said – a movie star.

While mingling, everyone kept telling me, “Wait till you meet Paddy Meskell … Paddy this and Paddy that.” When I did meet him, the man didn’t disappoint one bit. Charismatic and friendly, not only did he give me just about the best introduction for the Q&A I could ask for, but he also made me feel extremely welcome, like we were old friends. But then, everyone did. From all the organisers and helpers of the sponsoring organization Solas Nua to the fine people who support them.

I didn’t want to leave my new friends, but I was Chicago-bound for “Lift’s” second American screening at the Chicago Irish Film Festival. Another great venue, great people, great Q&A. My head was spinning on the plane home. It was still spinning on my drive into work on the Tuesday. Right up until I noticed I was washing a filthy dirty generator in the pissings of rain. Ah shit. Back to reality. But the experience gave me a taste of something. Made me believe that following this dream of writing and making movies full time was inching ever closer. And that now, there was no way in hell I could ever give up on it.

It’s not an easy path, it must be a vocation. The lows can be tough, but the highs are fantastic. Spurred on from these highs my first novel “The Middle Place” has since secured a publishing deal with Mercier Press and will be out in the Spring.  Having “Lift” play in festivals such as The Capital Irish Film Festival, helped get it picked up by a leading distribution company Screen Media Films, and like I said, become available in the USA and Canada on a whole bunch of platforms including: Google Play, Amazon Prime, iTunes, AT&T, Comcast, FandangoNOW, iNDemand, Microsoft Store, Sling, Vubiquity, Vudu, Playstation and XBOX.  

But we’re not done with it. The hope for Lift now is to get it out to a wider audience through further networks, the more downloads it receives at this stage, the more likely that becomes. So do yourself a favour, you’ll love it, I promise. Okay, do me a favour. Pick out your preferred platform and check out the film. If it makes you feel something, then spread the word.

Being a movie star for a weekend was great, don’t get me wrong. But at the end of the day all that really matters is for people to see the film and enjoy it. That’s even better than getting the best ever selfie in front of my name in lights…As good as anyway.   


Amazon link:

Google Play link:

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Backstage fun!

CIFF Co-Director Mike Kerlin and Volunteer Coordinator Norah Quinn urge audiences to vote after each film.

CIFF Co-Director Mike Kerlin and Volunteer Coordinator Norah Quinn urge audiences to vote after each film.

Solas Nua Board Chair Paddy Meskell pitched in with tips about hurling

Solas Nua Board Chair Paddy Meskell pitched in with tips about hurling

CIFF closing film 'The Farthest' w/ Ambassador Mulhall

"We, the team behind The Farthest, are delighted to learn that our film has received the audience prize at CIFF this year! In fact, we are over the moon!"

-Tony Cranstoun, editor of "The Farthest"

Editor of "The Farthest" Tony Cranstoun, left, and planetary astronomer Dr. Heidi Hammel discuss the film with Irish Ambassador Dan Mulhall.

Editor of "The Farthest" Tony Cranstoun, left, and planetary astronomer Dr. Heidi Hammel discuss the film with Irish Ambassador Dan Mulhall.

Film director Colin McIvor shares his CIFF experience

To have my feature film 'Zoo' open the 2018 Capital Irish Film Festival was such a privilege and something I'll never forget. The organisers and attendees were so knowledgable, warm and gracious with their comments on the film. The cherry on top was the fantastic AFI theatre in Silver Spring with its retro wrap around billboard. All in all a superb festival which I highly recommend. 

--Colin McIvor 

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Irish Film Institute creates a portal to its archives

The Irish Film Institute (IFI) has launched the IFI Player, a virtual viewing room where audiences can instantly access parts of the rich collections housed in its Irish Film Archive. This is very a significant step in the history of film archives, democratizing access to remarkable collections, including content from as far back as 1910. 

Initially over 1200 minutes of content has been loaded onto the IFI Player, including footage from what is believed to be the first piece of animation, home movies, newsreels, travelogues, animations, feature films, public information films and documentaries. It also includes the following film collections: The Gael-Linn CollectionThe Horgan Brothers Collection, The O’Kalem CollectionThe Radharc CollectionThe Father Delaney CollectionThe Bord Fáilte Film CollectionThe Department of Foreign Affairs CollectionThe Desmond Egan CollectionThe Monsignor Reid Collection. Additional content from the archives will be added over the coming years, making this an ever growing resource.

To access the IFI Player simply log on to and begin to explore. 

Thoughts from Paddy Meskell

It is so heartwarming to see the reaction of the audiences to Irish films presented at CIFF.

And the talkbacks!

Hen Norton and Dan Dennison of Born and Reared and Kealan Ryan of Lift have honored our audiences with thoughtful, insightful, provocative, honest and humorous answers to some great questions. We have very knowledgeable audiences and their interest in and commitment to Irish artists and Irish filmmakers is very impressive. And inspiring.

As I watch the films and listen to the film-makers, I am struck by how serious they are about their craft, how resourceful they are within a limited resources environment and how talented they are.

The delight that these artists and their colleagues have in creating lovely films is obvious. The energy and the vibrancy that they exhibit when discussing their work is contagious. They seem to come alive and at times they make you feel that you are there on the set or in the cutting room with them -part of the creative team and process.


Thoughts from Paddy Meskell

It is so heartwarming to see the reaction of the audiences to Irish films presented at CIFF.

And the talkbacks. 

Hen Norton and Dan Dennison of Born and Reared and Kealan Ryan of Lift have honored our audiences with thoughtful, insightful, provocative, honest and humorous answers to some great questions. We have very knowledgeable audiences and their interest in and commitment to Irish artists and Irish filmmakers is very impressive. And inspiring.

As I watch the films and listen to the film-makers, I am struck by how serious they are about their craft, how resourceful they are within a limited resources environment and how talented they are.

The delight that these artists and their colleagues have in creating lovely films is obvious. The energy and the vibrancy that they exhibit when discussing their work is contagious. They seem to come alive and at times they make you feel that you are there on the set or in the cutting room with them -part of the creative team and process.

The Capital Irish Film Festival Loves Irish Filmmakers

With the financial assistance of Culture Ireland, five filmmakers will be joining the Capital Irish Filmmaker audiences to discuss their films, their careers and their next projects at the American Film Institute Silver Theatre March 2 through 5:


“Born and Reared” is a first feature-length documentary for filmmakers Henrietta Norton, director, and Dan Dennison, producer/cinematographer. It tells the ongoing story of four young men of differing social and religious backgrounds who grew up during “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland, when lines of identity were sharply drawn. The underlying question is “What happens when the cameras and reporters go away?” What are the aftereffects of civil conflict long after the “Good Friday Peace Agreement of 1998?” Ms. Norton was born in London, but spent weekends and holidays in Northern Ireland with her stepmother Marjorie “Mo” Mowlam, who was Northern Ireland Secretary of State in 1997 and ’98. She calls this a story she had to tell. Dublin-born producer Dan Dennison is a photojournalist who has been to trouble spots around the world. He has seen the aftereffects of conflict in many cultures. Ms. Norton co-founded the first crowdfunding platform in the United Kingdom in 2011 and ‘Born and Reared’ was initially funded by a Kickstarter campaign in 2014. Hen and Dan have recently established Hot Feet Productions, a film company that specializes in documentary films. Screening Thursday, March 2 at 7:15 p.m.


Producer Marie-Therese Garvey founded the independent production company reater Than Ten Miles in 2015 to focus on telling social issue stories in creative and innovative ways. GTTM’s first feature documentary is “Atlantic”, released in 2016, and the winner of Best Irish Documentary at the Dublin International Film Festival. Narrated by Emmy Award-winning actor Brendan Gleeson and directed by Risteard O’Domhnaill (The Pipe 2010),”Atlantic” follows the fortunes of three small fishing communities - in Ireland, Norway and Newfoundland - as they share the struggle to maintain their way of life in the face of mounting economic and ecological challenges. Ms. Garvey, based in County Clare, Ireland, has shot documentaries in some of the most difficult terrain on Earth, including the Norwegian Artic and the Sahara Desert. The Irish Times calls “Atlantic” “epic in scope, damning in its conclusions.”

Screening Sunday, March 5 at 2:30 p.m.


“Lift” writer-producer Kealan Ryan is also a novelist, whose debut novel “The Middle Place” won the 2015 Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair, director of short films, actor, musician and travel blogger. “Lift”, directed by Conor Armstrong Sanfey, is his first feature film writing credit. says, “Ryan never lets a moment last too long where characters aren’t saying something humorous.” Ryan and Sanfey also turned to crowdfunding to get this movie, about people trapped in an elevator with a man who has just committed an assault, off the ground. CIFF will be “Lift’s” U.S. premier.

Screening Friday, March 3 at 7:15 p.m.

Hilary Rose is an actor, comedian and the wife of “The Young Offenders” director Peter Foott. Seven months pregnant with her first child while filming the final scenes playing the mother of one of the juvenile delinquents in the comedy, she says it was a family affair, start to finish. The road show, buddy flick, based on a real Irish crime scene, follows two hapless small-time criminals as they set off to find a cache of drugs that reportedly is washing up on the beautiful beaches of West Cork. Ms. Rose, who is from Cork, is known in Ireland as the television character Handy Sandie from “Republic of Telly”. “the Young Offenders” was named Best Irish Feature Film at the Galway Film Fleadh and received the Dublin Film Critics Circle award for Best Irish Film.

Screening Sunday, March 5 at 6:30 p.m.


CIFF All Access Passes are available at

Single tickets are available at


Program Change for Saturday

The Capital Irish Film Festival regrets to announce that the film "Poison Pen" scheduled to be shown at 3:30 on Saturday, March 5, at "live at 10th and G" will not be screened. Copies of the film failed to arrive for the festival.

In its place on the program will be:

“Ireland: The Birth of a Nation” is a documentary by historian Gerard McCarthyabout the revolutionary period that led up to the Easter Rising and eventually to civil war. 

The film contains some of the earliest footage of Dublin, 1897, by the Lumiere brothers. It  also shows Padraig Pearse’s oration at the graveside of O’DonovanRossa in 1915. The speech ended with Pearse making a call to arms eight monthsbefore the Easter Rising. Directed by Gerard McCarthy.

The Capital Irish Film Festival will continue with films from Northern Ireland at 5:30 and 8 p.m., as well as scheduled, "Saturday Shorts", at 1 p.m.

Thank you for your understanding,

Solas Nua/The Capital Irish Film Festival

Together In Pieces Interview

Answers by David Dryden and Eileen Walsh

Why this movie? What drew you in about this story, and why do you think it needed to be told?

The historic city walls in Derry are being used as an unsanctioned political billboard for dissident republicans or factions of a republican nature. The graffiti on these walls stands tall in large white letters overlooking a predominantly Catholic area of the city- the Bogside, the immediate area where Bloody Sunday took place.  The graffiti reads ‘END INTERNMENT’ or ‘UK NO WAY’ and more recently a commemoration to the death of the radical socialist Paddy Bogside. 

As Eileen Walsh and myself both live and work in and around Derry we wondered why these messages were left up and not removed, especially considering their inciting nature and the negative social influence they bring to an already highly politicized area.

We wanted to know what visitors and locals felt about this graffiti. Walking past it either for the first time, or every day, we wondered if it was right that children, teenagers and adults of either denomination be exposed to these messages in a publicly shared space and what effect it has on creating a peaceful future.

It seems that this low level sectarianism is being ingrained into the minds of the city’s youth by this type of graffiti. Young people are especially easy targets for politicization and getting to them young is the best way to perpetuate a divided society.  This is something that the majority do not want so we questioned why we are still being bullied by these slogans. The city’s youth haven’t a chance.

About how many groups are there? Aside from marking their territory, what is it these groups, like the RUC, want to do or hope to accomplish with their graffiti?

There are a multitude of groups from both Republican and Loyalist factions; IRA, INLA, UVF, UDA and UFF, being the main ones. 

Often graffiti will tout ‘We haven’t gone away ’ which seems to denote that despite the peace agreement, these paramilitary  groups are still a threat, which ultimately is showing defiance to any political ground made in Stormont, advocating a righteous refusal to partake in joint talks based on a sense of entitlement of land or beliefs in a united Ireland.  Often political parties such as Sinn Fein ( now in government) are considered ‘sell outs’, particularly by dissidents opposed to the peace process. The graffiti, maintained predominantly in urban areas, is a finger up to the establishment and the police force which serves them.

It is also important to realize that it is also very much perpetuated due to the memory of past tragedies. It can be argued that these deaths are being used to incur sympathy and a vote for a group’s cause; ‘Remember the 14’.

It could be that the graffiti sets out to embed a sense of political unity within the community.  Historically persecuted under British rule and its police force the PSNI (formally the RUC), this idea is perpetuated.  These public adverts serve as a show of strength for people whose alternative views have no political representation and who feel like their identity is being eroded away.

Some of the graffiti is a clear show of strength and defiance, for example by writing over the Derry walls, which themselves are a symbol of Protestant plantations in Ireland.  Graffiti is left on these walls because the local council can’t get workers to clean it up for 2 reasons; they will be attacked and also if cleaned up, the graffiti goes straight back up.

Some graffiti has included a twitter address ‘#32CSM’ so there are clear goals to direct people online.

The graffiti often is clearly intimidating, and is there to deter residents from neighborhoods close by from entering or to make them feel unwelcome. It also serves to antagonize the police force which is still seen by many to be an occupying force.

Why do some kids who graffiti not understand what the IRA is, even today?  Are they unwilling to know?

There is a complete systematic failure to educate children about the Troubles. It is an area of history not taught at schools. Schools are largely segregated and this is a big problem. Any education children get often will be from family and people in the (ghetto) neighborhoods first. They will hear stories and obviously form opinions.

These opinions are also coloured by the history of partition itself, as well as by their political landscape, and the murals, sectarian graffiti, lack of social opportunities and high unemployment they see every day in their neighbourhood.

Children are politicized from an early age without seeing the bigger picture or getting to hear opinions from other sides.  Our film proves that their opinions change quickly when exposed to less bigoted versions from open minded elements in society.

Michael Doherty talks about the losses the Protestants are experiencing.  What are the losses they are dealing with? Why are they experiencing these losses, especially in these times? Why do the Catholics not recognize or understand the losses of the Protestants?

Michael Doherty was a hugely interesting interviewee with a wealth of personal experience through his years of work in peace and reconciliation. In Together in Pieces he talks about the sense of loss felt by Protestants through the Peace Process. He talks about how many Protestants feel a sense of isolation and abandonment through the loss of many things that they hold dear.

After partition, Protestants in Northern Ireland held the majority of seats in government, and with this came massive inequalities in economic, cultural and political representation between Catholics and Protestants, with the majority of Catholics living in poverty. Since the Troubles and the peace agreement and official recognition of these inequalities, these issues are still being addressed today.

The changes that have been taking place have been equal representation in government, so loss of the Protestant majority in government, and room for Republican parties such as Sinn Fein, who, were up until 1994 held to British broadcasting voice restrictions.

The loss of the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) – a Protestant majority police force, is mentioned in the film. The RUC has been replaced by a new police service, the PSNI (Police Service Northern Ireland) and this strives to have equal representation from the Catholic community.

Cultural and social changes;  On December 3rd 2012  Belfast City Council voted to limit the days that the Union Flag (the flag of the United Kingdom) flies from Belfast City Hall. This sparked violent protests from Unionists. 

After so many years of inequality, Catholics feel like the balance is only being set equal now for fair representation in Northern Ireland.  So for this reason, Catholics don’t understand Protestants’ sense of loss (at the flying of the Union Flag, the RUC etc.).  They don’t see this as a loss- instead they think that things shouldn’t have been this way to begin with.

Protestants are feeling their identity being eroded away, as these great symbols of their culture that once featured dominantly in the landscape are gone.

More importantly there is a lack of public education about these issues and little opportunity or interest in getting people to talk about these issues. This means neither side is ever fully informed about what is actually going on with the peace process. The media perpetuates this situation and too often is more interested in representing negative narratives, rather than reporting on any real change.

In the film Michael recognises the problems caused by the segregated education and housing systems in Northern Ireland and thinks that the two communities (nationalist and loyalist) don’t understand each other and don’t live together, co-existing in the same place in parallel worlds without actually living together.

In what way(s) do you see the landscape of Northern Ireland changing? Politically, culturally, etc.?  Is it becoming more radicalized or open-minded and accepting?

Northern Ireland is becoming more multi-cultural with large Indian and Chinese communities already established and this trend will continue to grow despite the social issues.  There will be no substantial changes to society between Catholic and Protestant communities unless the issue of segregated schools is addressed and until the so called ‘peace walls’ are removed.

Also political parties are not trying hard enough to work together – they are actively not working together on many issues, and the public cannot understand why they are doing this. This is setting a terrible example for our society and is perpetuating the division and misunderstanding.

The overwhelming problem is the high unemployment rate in Northern Ireland. If people have jobs and something to work for in society they will feel more accepted socially. And as they mix with other people from different backgrounds, there will be less chance of them wanting to get involved in radical movements.

There is still a sense of frustration that things are moving too slowly. People now want politicians to focus more on real issues like the economy and jobs, more on the issues that unite people and less on the issues that divide. 

The brightest hope at the moment in Northern Ireland for young people is from graffiti art workshops. City centres are increasingly the focal point for artistic graffiti murals. This colourful street art not only helps to brighten up city centres, making them more welcoming.  It also helps to combat anti-social graffiti, helping to change the attitudes of people living there, while also uplifting mindsets and allowing more creativity into mainstream society.

Do you think the “graffiti movement” foments these changes, embodies or reflects them, or both? 

Graffiti art is non-political by definition. This philosophy is upheld by most artists.  This is a great starting block to base the movement from and to help initiate positive social change, especially in a country so fundamentally divided by politics. Young people here are tired of this political division.

Walls will reflect what you put on them into the mind of the viewer. Similarly, what is in the mind of the artist who paints is projected onto the wall – if the message is positive, then one cannot help but be filled with a positive vision. If the message is negative however, the viewer will be filled with negativity. It sounds very basic but this visual stimuli has a profound effect on one’s mental health. It is primal, and it is proven to be the catalyst to changing mindsets.


The Capital Irish Film festival welcomes visiting filmmakers

This year’s Capital Irish Film Festival (CIFF) is the tenth presented by Solas Nua. Nothing testifies to the cumulative power of consistent high-quality programming like the increasing number of filmmakers who join us at the screening of their films. In 2016, through the generous support of Culture Ireland, we will have five filmmakers on hand for the screening of their films and Q and A’s after. For the first time we will be hosting a director from Northern Ireland.

Kicking off the festival is “Older Than Ireland” directed by Alex Fegan and produced by Garry Walsh. Both will be at the post-screening talk Thursday, March 3, at the E Street Cinema. Also the director of the popular “The Irish Pub,” Fegan is fast becoming Ireland’s premier chronicler of its social history.

Producer Rachel Lysaght will also be joining CIFF for two of her films. ‘Traders”, which shows at 8 p.m. March 4 at the U.S. Navy Heritage Center, is a dark comedy about what happens when cut-throat capitalists get really desperate. “One Million Dubliners”, a documentary on the Glasnevin Cemetery, was voted Best Irish Film 2014 by Irish Times readers. It will show at 4 p.m. Sunday, March 6, at the Angelika Pop-Up at Union Market. Lysaght will take questions after each film.

Paddy Hayes, director of the darkly hilarious docudrama “Name Your Poison”, will take questions after its screening on Friday March 4. A film and TV documentarian, Hayes has recreated an incredible tale out of the U.S. depression era.

Director Eileen Walsh of Derry, Northern Ireland, will be at CIFF for the World Premiere of her short documentary “Together in Pieces”, which will show as part of the Double Feature Saturday, March 5, at “Live at 10th and G” Northwest. She will also be at reception hosted by the Northern Ireland Bureau.

Finally, Donncha Gilmore, director of the short musical “Bonsoir Luna”, will be at its screening with the Saturday Shorts on March 5 at 1 p.m. This film continues CIFF’s tradition of offering films in the Irish language.

See the Filmmaker blog at for more interviews and information on visiting artists.

The Capital Irish Film Festival welcomes Director Eileen Walsh

Solas Nua is delighted to announce that Eileen Walsh will be on hand for the Capital Irish Film Festival. Ms. Walsh is an emerging film producer, director and multi-disciplinary artist as well as an award-winning broadcaster. She is the co-founder with David Dryden of Foxwall Films in Derry, Northern Ireland. “Together in Pieces”, which was commissioned by the Community Relations Council, is a 25-minute documentary about the changing landscape of Northern Ireland, seen through the prism of graffiti and murals, which have a long tradition there. It will show for the first time on the festival circuit as part of the “Double Feature” on Saturday night at 5:30 p.m. at  “Live at 10th and G” in Northwest. Ms. Walsh will do a Q and A after the screenings.  She is Chairperson of the Cultural Partnership Forum and Vice Chair of CCA (Centre for Contemporary Art) in Derry-Londonderry. She is also a  critic for the theatrical publication The Stage.

WIFV Happy Hour at Hill Country Barbecue in advance of TRADERS Screening at Capital Irish Film Festival

Friday, March 4, 2016 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM

Hill Country Barbecue Market

410 7th St NW

Washington, DC 20004

Register Here

TRADERS will screen at the Naval Heritage Center at 8:00 pm and was produced by Rachel Lysaght, an award-winning film and TV producer who is the chair of Women in Film & Television Ireland.  You can get tickets for TRADERS here